Chin State Govt Shutters Local Newspaper

By Zarni Mann 2 October 2014

MANDALAY — The Chin State government has ordered a local unregistered newspaper to shut down, with its chief editor crying foul over what he says was a politically motivated decision.

The editor-in-chief of the biweekly Hakha Post said the order was communicated to him by the Hakha district office on Monday.

“The district called me and said that the order was coming from Chin State’s chief minister [Hung Ngai]. The district administration officer gave no reason, but just said that the Hakha Post was not registered and would have to shut down,” Lalawmpui, the editor-in-chief, told The Irrawaddy.

According to the Hakha Post editor, there are more than 20 local newspapers circulating in Chin State, only a few of which are officially registered.

“Only the Hakha Post has faced this, while many other newspapers have not received any notification or order to shut down. I’ve asked them about those newspapers but they have just pled ignorance. They even told me that we will be punished if we continue to publish without registration,” he said.

The Hakha Post, with a circulation of 2,500, has been distributed in Hakha and the surrounding area since 2012 in the local Lai language.

The Irrawaddy contacted the Hakha district administration, but a duty officer said his office was not authorized to comment on the matter.

Lalawmpui said that he believed the order to shut down the newspaper was given because his publication regularly produces news criticizing the poor administration of the state government.

“Since the Union government said it would promote literature and media of the ethnic people, the order to shut down the Hakha Post shows there is no transparency yet in Chin State. If the chief minister wants to take action on the newspapers that do not have registrations, they should take equal action against all of them, not only us,” Lalawmpui said.

“We will try to register. During this, we have to suspend production. We will wait and see whether the registration will be approved or not. If we do not receive the registration, or the other unregistered newspapers are still publishing, the injustice of the state government will be clear to see,” he added.